Appealing new county property appraisal (sq ft discrepancy)

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mbasherp
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Joined: Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:48 am

Appealing new county property appraisal (sq ft discrepancy)

Post by mbasherp »

I just received my home's new property tax appraisal from the county, a once in 4 year process. I've always noticed that the house is listed as a certain square footage (~2500) by the county and on Zillow/Redfin, and the 3 private appraisals we did when buying and refi-ing all came in smaller, around 2300-2400 sq ft.

I'm thinking this is good grounds to appeal my new assigned value in hopes of lowering it. But are there ramifications down the road of making the smaller square footage "official?" I guess my listing price might be hurt if I sell, but a buyer is probably going to get it appraised anyway, in which case they'd run into what I have already.
mkc
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Re: Appealing new county property appraisal (sq ft discrepancy)

Post by mkc »

It's a bit of a catch-22.

The tax assessor is likely going off the original building permit.

From a selling perspecting, most listings state "buyer to verify all data", or something like that.

Where it might come into play is if you do list - your agent could put "2500 sf per tax rolls" and put that in the SF for the listing with the above statement. If someone was looking for a 2500+ sf home, yours would come up in a search. If it was listed at 2300-2400, it wouldn't be in the search results.

We had the opposite issue with our previous house - sf was listed as the builder's base plan, and we had chosen some options that made it larger. When we went to list, we hired an appraiser to measure and certify the actual dwelling, and were able to show it was a few hundred sf larger than records. That put it more competitive for a price per sf against other homes in the same price range.

Of course in this case, you apparently have independent appraisal records documenting the lower sf...
Last edited by mkc on Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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lthenderson
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Location: Iowa

Re: Appealing new county property appraisal (sq ft discrepancy)

Post by lthenderson »

My county assessor square feet estimate on my house is all rounded to the nearest foot on any single dimension and thus I could see a case where the actual square footage over the entire house could be off by several hundred square feet or more.

If it were me, the answer to your question would depend on your future in that house. If you aren't planning on leaving until they carry you out in a box, then by all means appeal and see if you get your taxes lowered. If you are thinking of selling in the near future, I would leave the high square feet untouched, especially if it was just above 2500 which might be a breaking point for a lot of search engines.
regularguy455
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Re: Appealing new county property appraisal (sq ft discrepancy)

Post by regularguy455 »

This is a tough route. I was successful appealing by using comps and an appraisal below tax value. Had to appeal twice and make several phone calls. Saved me $500 over 4 years.
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mbasherp
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Re: Appealing new county property appraisal (sq ft discrepancy)

Post by mbasherp »

To be clear, even the county’s apparently incorrect estimate is just under 2500 sq ft. So this home would not appear in any searches for >2500. It’s more a question of 2480 vs 2308, or 2354, or so - all numbers we have seen on appraisals.
iamlucky13
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Re: Appealing new county property appraisal (sq ft discrepancy)

Post by iamlucky13 »

mbasherp wrote: Tue Apr 27, 2021 9:14 am I'm thinking this is good grounds to appeal my new assigned value in hopes of lowering it. But are there ramifications down the road of making the smaller square footage "official?" I guess my listing price might be hurt if I sell, but a buyer is probably going to get it appraised anyway, in which case they'd run into what I have already.
In neither of the mortgage appraisals that were done on my house, nor during the assessor's inspection when I contested the county appraisal (not related to size), did I see an appraiser measure anything. Who knows if a buyer would observe the discrepancy the same as you did.

However, if a buyer did find the seller or even the county records had misrepresented the size of the house, that seems like valid grounds for rescinding an offer during inspection.

Furthermore, an acquaintance of mine was recently sued over purported misrepresentation in a sale. The case was not quite the same (the acquaintance sold an undeveloped property, unaware that adverse use was occurring, and the neighbor later succeeded in an adverse possession claim against the buyer), but seems to have parallels. I have to wonder if a seller discovering inaccurate square footage after completion of a sale might also have grounds to sue.

So, my view is not to worry about how fixing the discrepancy might affect sales price, and instead worry about how not fixing the discrepancy might cause legal issues down the road.

I honestly don't think it is very likely you would get sued, but considering how much stress I saw this acquaintance go through, and how much it cost him*, it seems preferable to preempt the possibility.

* Significantly more than the proportionate value of (percent of property lost) x (sales price). His attorney was adamant he had no hope of prevailing in a trial, so he settled.
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